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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site

Anthropic Principle

The Fine-Tuned Universe -- the insignificance of very small numbers
The Intelligent Design community often argue that the universe is fine-tuned for life and this can only be because there is a designer. There have been many refutations of this argument. This short paper looks at one specific issue. The fallacy of arguing that because a physical constant has to be extremely precise to support life it is therefore extremely unlikely that the constant had a value that would support life.
Frank, Mark;
published: Dec 21, 2008

Review of The Privileged Planet
In this essay, Professor of Astronomy William Jefferys shows the fallaciousness of the thesis promoted in Gonzalez and Richards's book The Privileged Planet. (Off-site link)
Jefferys, Bill;
published: Jun 07, 2005

The Fine-Tuning Argument
In this essay (originally published in 1998) Professor Theodore Drange suggested a set of mainly philosophical and logical arguments against the supernatural interpretation of the so-called "fine-tuning" of the physical properties of the universe. (Off-site link)
Drange, Theodore ;
published: Dec 27, 2004

The Fine-Tuning Argument Revisited
In this essay (originally published in 2000) Professor Theodore Drange suggested certain amendments to and clarifications of his arguments against the supernatrural interpretation of the "fine-tuning" of the properties of the universe (see The Fine-Tuning Argument). (Off-site link)
Drange, Theodore ;
published: Dec 27, 2004

Prior Probabilities and Confirmation Theory: A Problem with the Fine-Tuning Argument
Proponents of fine-tuning arguments attempt to infer the existence of God from the presumably improbable fact that the universe is able to support life. Life would not be possible if any of approximately two-dozen fundamental laws and properties of the universe had been even slightly different; this, according to the argument, shows the existence of a creator who deliberately created the universe for the purpose of supporting life. In this essay, Kenneth Himma considers the Confirmatory Version of the argument, which relies on the following principle of confirmation theory: if an observation O is more likely to occur under hypothesis H1 than under hypothesis H2, then O supports accepting H1 over H2. Himma argues that the application of this principle under conditions similar to those forming the context of the Confirmatory Version is vulnerable to straightforward counterexamples. TalkReason would like to point out that, whereas Himma's demonstration of the weakness of the theistic explanation of the fine-tuning is, in our view, well taken, his conclusion asserting the "intellectual respectability" of a theistic explanation contradicts his own arguments. Our readers may compare Himma's article with other articles in this section (for example, see www.talkreason.org/articles/anthropic.cfm where an application of the Bayesian formalism supports Himma's thesis of the weakness of the theistic explanation but also shows the weakness of Himma's own conclusion of the intellectual respectability of such an explanation). (PDF format, off-site link)
Himma, Kenneth;
published: Dec 26, 2004

Anthropic Reasoning and the Contemporary Design Argument in Astrophysics: A Reply to Robert Klee
This article complements the article by Dr. Robert Klee. Drs Mark Walker and Milan Cirkovic point out that Klee's argument, while necessary, is not sufficient to rebuff the design argument which uses the anthropic coincidences as allegedly proving the supernatural origin of the universe and of life. The design argument in question comprises two components -- one based on the alleged exact coincidences of certain "large numbers" characterizing different features of the observed universe, and the other referring to the values of physical constants which supposedly are "fine-tuned" for the emergence of life. While Robert Klee demonstrates that the "Large numbers coincidences" are often just results of what he refers to as "mathematical sharp practice," thus being void of meaning, he does not address the "fine-tuning" component of the design argument. Walker and Cirkovic indicate that the full rebuttal of the design argument requires compementing Klee's data with a rebuttal of the "fine-tuning" argument.
Walker, Mark A. ; Ćirković , Milan M. ;
published: Feb 24, 2004

The Revenge of Pythagoras: How a Mathematical Sharp Practice Undermines the Contemporary Design Argument
In this article Dr. Robert Klee shows that the scientific/mathematical evidence cited in support of the intelligent design of the universe is infected with a mathematical sharp practice: the concepts of two numbers being of the same order of magnitude and of being within an order of each other have been stretched from their proper meaning so as to doctor the numbers evidentially. (PDF format.)
Klee, Robert;
published: Feb 17, 2004
updated: May 20, 2008

The Anthropic Principle Does Not Support Supernaturalism
An article showing that Dr. Hugh Ross's argument about the so-called "fine-tuning" of the constants of physics is wrong. Not only is it wrong, but in fact the observation that the universe is "fine-tuned" in this sense can only count against a supernatural origin of the universe. Furthermore, with certain theologies suggested by deities that are both inscrutable and very powerful, the more "finely-tuned" the universe is, the more a supernatural origin of the universe is undermined.
Jefferys, Bill; Ikeda , Michael ;
published: Sep 24, 2002
updated: Jan 12, 2004

The Anthropic Principles - Reasonable and Unreasonable and the Fallacy of the Abduction Argument for the Big Bang's Supernatural Origin
In this short essay a simple probabilistic approach, based on a particular version of Bayes's theorem, is suggested for comparing the two main brands of the anthropic principle - one attributing to natural causes the fact that the conditions in our universe seem to be fine-tuned for the existence of life, and the other assuming the supernatural design of the conditions in question. An application of some elementary concepts of probability theory shows that the natural explanation of the anthropic principle is logically consistent whereas the supernatural interpretation, while not necessarily wrong, is based on an arbitrary assumption. In the second part of the essay, a similar probabilistic approach shows the weakness of an argument by Dembski and Meyer, who suggested an abduction form of inference to substantiate the hypothesis of a supernatural source of the big bang.
Perakh, Mark;
published: Aug 10, 2000
updated: Jul 30, 2001

Anthropic Design: Does the Cosmos Show Evidence of Purpose?
Claims that scientists have uncovered supernatural purpose to the universe have been widely reported recently in the media. The so-called anthropic coincidences, in which the constants of nature seem to be extraordinarily fine-tuned for the production of life, are taken as evidence. However, no such interpretation can be found in scientific literature. All we currently know from fundamental physics and cosmology remains consistent with a universe that evolved by purely natural processes.
Stenger, Victor J. ;
published: Sep 09, 2002

Natural Explanations for the Anthropic Coincidences
The anthropic coincidences are widely claimed to provide evidence for intelligent creation in the universe. However, neither data nor theory support this conclusion. No basis exists for assuming that a random universe would not have some kind of life. Calculations of the properties of universes having different physical constants than ours indicate that long-lived stars are not unusual, and thus most universes should have time for complex systems of some type to evolve. A multi-universe scenario is not ruled out since no known principle requires that only one universe exist. (PDF format)
Stenger, Victor J. ;
published: Sep 09, 2002